Singapore Day 3: Bugis Junction, Central Perk, Lau Pa Sat again!


Today we planned on buying pasalubong, so where else should we be headed to?

Bugis Junction


Nothing has changed since the last time I went here. The place sells all kinds of pasalubong you would want to take home. From shirts, ref magnets, chocolates, and other items, this is pretty much a Greenhills of sorts. 



We chanced upon a dragon and lion parade while shopping. Seems like Chinese New Year celebration isn't over yet! In fact, it's Valentines week but we hardly felt love in the air lol, it's all lanterns and lions and dragons dancing around.


We ate at the food center where I we got Pho, Chicken wings, fries, and milk tea.

Central Perk


After roaming around Bugis, we took the bus to Central Mall well Central Perk is. I think it was a deliberate choice to put the Friends themed restaurant at this mall haha. We were only allowed to take pictures on certain areas because we weren't dining in.



Cute place!

Lau Pa Sat again!


After Central Perk we took the bus to Lau Pa Sat so eat dinner. It's become our favorite place haha. We ate Indian food (of course), and the ate there was kind enough to give use free pakoras because she learned we were from the Philippines! Our dinner didn't cost of $10, can you believe it. Sobrang sulit.

Parkroyale on Pickering

While walking to our bus stop we chanced upon this super gandang hotel woooow sobrang lush ng lumot or kung ano man yan. Love it!


Aaaaand there you go! Went back to the hotel tired, full, and looking forward to the next day!

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While waiting...

While waiting for my script to finish running, I'm writing this post to express how loaded with work I feel right now.

I have a testing project that's taking sooooo friggin long because the stakeholders required for several machines to be tested. With 5 scenarios running in 5 iterations for each machine, we're talking about weeks and weeks of testing which isn't gonna end until early April.

Anyway. Aside from that I have other pending tasks, two RPA projects in the requirements gathering stage, a re-testing project, pending meetings to discuss more RPA projects with other teams (oh boy, everyone wants to get a taste of this bot and I don't think our team could handle the demand), and two RPA presentations this week. Add to that, we have visitors in the office. Meaning there are lots of social functions that we need to attend aka opportunity for free food. I would love to be able to attend to all of them but I'm too swamped to be even bothered.

Outside of work I have a wedding invite to finish and a map to re-illustrate. Hay Lord, give me strength. I'm kinda thankful though 'cos I have no writing tasks recently! They must've forgotten about me, which is a good thing for now.

I'm already more than 30 minutes over time and I'm mentally begging this script to finish running so I could go home to my husband, who's sick.

>> Script execution done.

Yosh, time to go!
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Life Lately

Supermoon in sight!

I didn't really want to break my SG Diary blog series by posting a Life Lately in between, but well, I just want to update my dear blog about what's happening with my life.

//Singapore

Highlight of this month is still the Singapore trip, the recruitment process to be exact.

I'm so glad the exam week is finally over, that means I can stop stressing about the ISTQB Foundation Level chuchu and forget about scripting for a while. Because you know what, after that week, I just know in myself I lost all chances of making it to NZ or AU or wherever the heck they could ship me to. 

I totally blew the technical exam. 

I told you, any form of technical assessment is a kryptonite for me. I can study for objective exams and practice for interviews, but to demonstrate my skills live with someone on the other end looking at my screen? I'M DEAD.

The practical exam was simple. I just have to record a search engine site and perform a search, also while capturing the Search Suggestion requests. So okay, I pulled up good 'ol vugen and played around with it. I was able to record the transaction alright, while still being clueless about what Search Suggestion is.
During scripting, my assessor stopped me a couple of times to ask some questions about why I did this and that, and what's the logic behind doing this and that, and so on. he even taught me a simpler way to perform a text check, to which I responded with amazement.

He had so many questions and I answered them all wrong. I also did one very concerning thing during the scripting process which he pointed out, that I have literally no excuse for, except for my apparent inexperience.

After the assessment, I came home super defeated. I realized that after all, I didn't have what it takes to be a Performance Tester at a consulting level. That everything I learned about this skill is frkn outdated. And that I've accumulated so many bad practices along the way. 

Now I want to unlearn everything and start anew. It can't be good that I suck this much at what I consider my specialty.

Nonetheless, it was a good run. Definitely a different kind of application experience. It was very arduous, expensive, and intense. I'm on the 4th stage of the recruitment process and while it pains to be considered not fit for the role at this point, I'll bring home with me a ton of learnings!

If there's one thing I'm proud of myself, that is finishing the frkn ISTQB Foundation Level Syllabus in two weeks. Reading it was so frkn enlightening. 

Oh well! Let the waiting continue!

//Work

As I mentioned before, and I still feel the same way, I'm not ready to leave, assuming there's an opportunity. Work is starting to pile on our laps now, the kind of work that I enjoy doing. Ever since we introduced RPA to the different teams, we've been getting a lot of automation requests. It's exciting! And just last week, after I came back from SG, we attended a 4-day UIPath training. It was very insightful and educational. It's very rare that I get to see the value in what I do so there's a part in me that wants to cultivate this further. My goodness I love this company. 

Also, SURPRISE! My manager just informed me a few hours ago, and very casually too like 'tara kain' ganong level lol,  that we have an RPA presentation tomorrow with our deparment's core team (CIO and directors of the technology group). *gulps* Jusko. Sir, I appreciate the faith and I know how easy it is for you to speak in public and all, BUT ME?! I need at least a day's notice. T___T

//Writing

It's been three weeks since my last writing task and I'm not sure if I'm ready to take more right now. I think I want to wait for the job results first before I decide if I'm still keen on working extra. If I get a job offer, I would have to continue writing because we would badly need the extra income to proceed with the application (Visa, IELTS, processing fees, etc.). If I don't get an offer though, that means I could stop writing because there would be no immediate need for money. Haha

Oh well. We'll see.
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Singapore Day 2: Old Airport Rd. Food Centre, Jollibee, and the Gym!


We didn't have anything touristy planned for our second day, being it's my exam day and I'm stressed enough as it is just thinking about it. The real reason we came to Singapore is to attend a recruitment roadshow where I was invited to take an exam, and attend a technical interview and assessment.
Today is the day I take the much anticipated exam. And what can I say, WHEW! I'm so glad it's over. Unlike other applicants where the exam will determine whether they get to the next stages or not, my case was different because I was being pooled for a more technical position. It means that apart from the exam results, I had to attend the interview and technical assessment scheduled 3 days after, before they can fully consider whether I'm a good fit for the post. 

Anyway, after the exam, Jeckie and I decided to visit a hawker nearby.

Nothing much on Old Airport Rd. Food Centre

I saw this being listed as one of the best hawkers in Singapore, but when we came there, we couldn't find anything we like to try. There's not much variety. Most of the stalls sell Chinese or Singaporean. Not a lot of Indian and Southeast Asian options. I wonder why the parking always looks packed.


And so we left.

Jollibee at Paya Lebar Square

We were getting hungry to so we decided to visit the closest Jollibee in our place. That would be at Paya Lebar Square, and so we took the bus going there.


Come dinner time, the line already snaked outside.


The verdict? They taste different. Just look at the chicken and spaghetti, they look so different from what we have here in the Philippines! Don't get me wrong, they're both super tasty. Even the Yum Burger we ordered tasted good, but it's nowhere near how our local favorites taste like. The Jollibee here tastes better for me, but it doesn't remind me of home. 

Gym time!


We managed to squeeze in some workout during the wee hours of the night. I don't really workout, but Jeckie has to because they have a Biggest Loser challenge going on at work and he can't afford to gain too much from this trip haha!

Aaaand, that's about it!


I told you there's not much about this day! Although you know, I've come to love riding the bus because of the scenery! ❤

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Singpore Day 1: Holiday Inn, Lau Pa Sat, and Marina Bay

My husband and I spent 5 days in Singapore last week and here's how it went down!

Bye Manila, you won't be missed.

It was our first international trip together so we were sooo excited. We toured a lot, spent a lot on food, and made really good memories of the place! Singapore is insanely impressive. The technology, the infrastructure, the cleanliness and discipline definitely reminded us how much our own country sucked. Jeckie and I contemplated a lot about how stark the contrast is and what seems to be wrong with our motherland. Is corruption really to blame? Overpopulation? Lack of education? Urgh. Anyway. We arrived at Changi International airport on Saturday and spent the night at my cousin's house before moving to our hotel the next day. Was able to get to know my cousin-in-law better, and also got to play with my cutie patootie Filipino-French nephew!


It was so generous of them to let us stay for the night. I love love love their place, if I were to live in a condo for the rest of our lives I'd want something with a similar layout as theirs! Super airy!


Kyot

Our first legit Hainanese Chicken Rice experience


Before we left for our hotel, we ate lunch at a nearby food court. Jeckie and I ordered Hainanese Chicken rice, as is part of our food agenda, and we were blooooown away. It's so good. I didn't think we'd experience this kind of quality at a food court.

Checked in at Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong


We checked in at the hotel around 3pm. I made a review of Holiday Inn Express Katong here. It's great and really sulit. I'm here saying we kindof splurged on this trip. Overall we spent almost ~₱70k on the six nights we stayed in SG. ₱21k for the flights, ₱25k for the hotel accommodation, the rest is for food, pasalubong, transportation, and amusement fees. No regrets!

Discovered Lau Pa Sat

Inside Lau Pa Sat aka Telok Ayer Market

Our agenda for Sunday is to commute to my exam venue, so I won't get lost tomorrow. After heading there and learning the directions, we explored the place and found Lau Pa Sat, a hawker in the middle of the CBD.

Outdoor seating for Satay feasts

IT WAS AWESOME. Probably my favorite hawker, at least among the ones we visited (Lau Pa Sat, Old Airport Rd, Albert Centre, and Satay by the Bay).

Delicious Indian food

We looked around and found so many food options. Singaporean, Chinese, Thai, Indian, and there's even Adobo Connection and Sisig Society for your Pinoy food cravings. But of course, we had to get Indian food! IT WAS SOOOOO FRKN GOOOOD! Definitely the best Chicken Tikka Masala I've had. The Naan bread was super soft, and the vegetable samosa is very flavorful.

We also discovered Thai Milk Tea, or Ice Teh Susu in Hawker menu. We don't usually drink Milk Tea, but grabe Loooord ano ba to and sarap ng Thai milk tea!!!!

First time to eat Satay. Sobrang havey!

We were curious about Satay so we tried 1 order (10 sticks for $7). The Satay stalls are situated outside the hawker along the street, and they serve chicken, beef, mutton, and prawn meat Satay. I thought it was gonna taste like your usual ihaw ihaw or barbecue pero LOOOOOORD ano nanaman toooo. Kakaiba sya. Ang sarap huhu. The sweet peanut sauce is perfect too. 

Got lost around Marina Bay


After eating we walked (aka got lost) around Marina Bay, effectively circling the entire area lol. No regrets though!


We passed through The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands...


... looked around the Louis Vuitton store, and also caught Spectra - A Light &Water Show. It's a free outdoor night event outside The Shoppes. We only learned about the show when we got lost in the mall. So, buti na lang! :D




I loved the music during the entire show. We got wet a bit so I would suggest to bring an umbrella next time haha. The show was culminated with a spectacular fireworks display.



While waiting at the bus stop we were greeted with another fireworks display! I thought this was pahabol from Spectra but I think it's from a different show? Grabe ang ganda ganda nyaaaaa! We were lucky we went here on a Sunday evening, we didn't think we'd be entertained the whole time! 



Gee, SG ❤

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A week at Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong


Holiday Inn Express Katong is probably the most affordable HIEx franchise in Singapore. It's near Changi airport and is located at a quiet neighborhood. The hotel is clean, modern, and everything is well maintained. Here's a quick tour of the hotel, our room, its amenities, and everything else!
The Lobby
The lobby is located at the 7th floor so you have to take the lift from the ground level of Katong Square. 


Alighting from the elevator, you'll be greeted by the reception counter. Check-in was a breeze. Everything I requested from my Agoda booking was granted (high floor, orange room, early check-in) and it didn't take 10 minutes for me to get a room. 


I was even able to request for a Handy mobile which made me love the hotel even more! According to the staff, only certain queen rooms have Handy mobile included. As long as you're checked in you can bring this around with you outside, it has unlimited 4G data and free international call to certain countries.


If you need to surf the internet, there's a small nook at the side of the reception counter with two computer machines. There's also some travel guides and a Forex machine too.

Queen Standard Room

Our room is located on the 15th floor. From the lobby at 7th floor, you have to take another lift to go the rooms. It's not too bad having to transfer lifts, I'm not sure why some reviewers complain about it. Being an express hotel, everything is kinda self-service. Even the extra things you want to request for your room, you have to pick up at the reception. So don't expect luggage assistance when you get here. :)


The room we got is a decent sized one. At 19sqm I was kinda hesitant about the space but when we got in, it actually looks spacious. Thanks to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the peaceful Katong district and the overall smart space design.




The bed is super comfy and the pillows are marked soft and firm haha. I don't know but it seemed more like soft and super soft. I was expecting the firm pillows are as firm as the throw pillows haha.



The bathroom is simple and has some very practical features. I like the use of liquid soap dispensers for handwash, shampoo/bodywash. I also think it's smart that the shower door and bathroom door act as one. When you open the shower door, it will close the bathroom. So when you're taking a shower, the bathroom is open. Basta ganon hahahaha. It saves a lot of space. 


The closet area isn't that big, but it's enough to store our luggage and put out our clothes. There's a safe, iron, and ironing board as well.


For tourists like us, I appreciate the presence of universal sockets, USB ports, and Handy Mobile. There's also a bluetooth speaker/alarm/radio you can use. And for your entertainment, the room is equipped with a Samsung Smart TV which has Radio, Youtube, and Miracast. Let me warn you though that the Youtube feature is pretty useless because there are fixed categories and there's no option to search for a video.


If you want to watch Netflix, I suggest you bring your own laptop and HDMI cable. That's what we did! There's free and fast wifi anyway. :)


There's complimentary bottled water, coffee and tea. Faucet water is potable too (by WHO standard guys) so no need to worry about it!

Express Start Breakfast


Every day from 6:30 to 10:30am, breakfast is served at the 7th floor. There's a modest selection of bread, muffins, ham, sausage, salad, fruits, and cereals, and there's also coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and a variety of fruit juices. Apart from the intercontinental breakfast spread, there are also some local Asian dishes like congee, dry noodles, dal, and so on. It's not much but it's enough to fill you up!




The only thing important to me is coffee. And they have 3 coffee machines spread out across the hall. Love it. There are a lot of seating areas and also an outdoor space for guests who smoke. 



When you're done with your food, you can place this card to inform the cleaners that your table is ready to get tidied up. And when you're not yet finished, you can flip it over! Isn't that neat?


If you're on the go, you can grab some coffee and pick up some muffins near the reception counter instead. They provide take-away cups and paper bags for that purpose. I think this is a really thoughtful touch targeting their business class guests.

Housekeeping

I have no qualms about their housekeeping. They would visit us everyday around 1pm to take out the trash, restock our bottled water, coffee and tea, refill the shampoo and hand wash dispensers, vacuum the carpet, and replace our towels. And get this, when they're done cleaning the room, they would dial something on our phone that would indicate that our room has been visited by housekeeping already. Ang high tech! This third world bitch is shookt.

24-hour gym

Outside the breakfast hall is a small gym you can use if you find the need for a quick workout. Jeckie and I was able to try it one night and found it pretty cool. It's small but it's enough. 


There are two treadmills, an elliptical cross-trainer, and a stationary bike inside. On the open area outside is a rower, a bench, a rack of dumbbells, and two exercise balls. Also provided are face towels, drinking water, and wet wipes for you to clean the equipment after sweating on it. I love how obsessed this city is with cleanliness, urgh. 

Note that there's no swimming pool here!

24-hour self-service laundry

I just love how Holiday Inn Express enables you to be productive everyday lol. Yes , you can do your laundry here. There's also an area where you can fold and iron your clothes. Just be ready to shell out $7 per load. So that's $14 for a wash and dry combo. 

Transportation

When we planned for this trip I didn't care about where the hotel is located because I know getting around Singapore is easy. And indeed! We didn't have any problems getting around. Thanks to the Handy mobile, we have data everywhere we go so it's easy to navigate around.

The nearest bus stop is Roxy Sq. and it's around 30-40 minutes away from the CBD.

Overall

I'm impressed at how incredibly feature-packed this hotel is. It's not a place for guests wanting to be pampered with 5-star service, but they provide everything you need with a high standard to enable you to mind your own business comfortably. I love it. It's the first time I've experienced such concept and it's pretty neat. 5 nights well spent!
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